Like many brides, I wanted our guests to have somewhere to stay when they came to the wedding. So, being the initiative-taking bride that I am, back in October, we booked a room block at a nearby hotel. It’s a hotel we walk by daily, is a 10 minute walk to our venue, and one that my parents have stayed in before when they’ve come out to visit. Nice and modern inside too, I was sure we could get some good photos there. We didn’t even look at any other hotels nearby, because they’re all super-fancy and probably $400 a night.
We signed a contract saying that guests who mentioned the code would get Friday and Saturday night at a rate of $129. Not too bad when the regular rate was $200 or something. The contract stated that our block of 10 rooms would be held, and the rate guaranteed until May 25th. Awesome! We just need to tell everyone to book early! We put the hotel’s phone number and other info on our invitations, because it was a done thing.
In February my mum phoned up this hotel to try to book a room for her and my dad, as well as 3 more rooms for various English family members. They’d decided it was easier to just book all those dates at once. All these people weren’t just staying the two nights, either! They’re all coming from Wednesday-Monday or so, so it was a significant amount of money to be spending in one place. She also though that by bringing them all this business in one fell swoop, that there could be a discount to be found in there. There was nothing. The person she talked to on the phone could not even knock off $5 per night. After a long time spent on a very un-helpful phone call, mum hung up and tried to see what her other options were.
The first place she checked was the fancy-pants hotel a few blocks away, the one Cinnamon Buns and I had poo-pooed because we thought it would cost an arm and a leg to stay there. Mum talked to a very helpful person on the phone who was very grateful for all the business she was bringing, and she got the cost of the rooms down to much less than our original hotel wanted to charge. At a nicer place! Go mum! She also booked a suite for two nights for me! (Me + bridesmaids one night, Me + hubby the second night!)
We didn’t think of changing our block book at hotel #1 though, because most of our other guests would only be staying the Friday and Saturday night, and the rate for those nights was fine.
At the very end of March, we sent out the invites with hotel #1′s information on our info card, giving the phone number, the discount code, and a note to book by May 24th. We also put all the info on our wedding website, which was mentioned a few times on the invitation suite.
In the first week of April…we got a phone call. It was the nice man who’d shown me around the hotel and drawn up our contract. He let us know that no one had booked into our block yet, and wanted to know if our invitations were out yet? I said that we’d just sent them a week before, so people were probably starting to receive them. He said that the hotel was filling up on that weekend, so they better book soon. I really didn’t know what to say; I tend to freeze up on the phone when conversations get bad, so I think I just said, “right, OK, bye!” and hung up.
A week later we got an email from them:
I understand that our Sales Manager spoke to you last week regarding the rooms that we’re holding in your block for Friday night June xxth. As we are sold out this night, and no rooms were picked up this past week, the rooms in your block for Friday night have been released. The rooms for Saturday night are still remaining, however at this time, no reservations have been made.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Questions or concerns?! I AM CONCERNED THAT YOU HAVE RELEASED MY ROOMS, JERKS!! There might have been tears on my end (this was also the week my parked car got totaled, so I wasn’t in a great state of mind to begin with). Cinnamon Buns, being the more level-headed one in situations like this, wrote up an email back to them pointing out that we had a contract signed by both parties saying that said rooms would be held until May 24th, a month and a half away.
Lo and behold, Cinnamon Buns’ email got this reply after a few days:
A large group that was holding rooms over your block dates has released some of the rooms that they were holding therefore I was able to add rooms back into your block for the Friday night. The rooms for the Saturday night are also still holding for you therefore your guests should have no problems making their guest room reservations.
I do apologize for any concerns that this may have caused.
‘Larger group’ my bum. So we had our rooms back, but obviously no one had booked, and we had a really bad taste in our mouths about the whole thing.
In the few days between Cinnamon Buns sending his email, and receiving the reply above, we started looking into new hotels. We went to the Fairmont Palliser where Cinnamum had booked our rooms, to see what they could do. We went in with the sob story of, “we had a block, but the hotel canceled on us, what will we do, oh woe is us,” because I was determined to make the other hotel’s mistake work in our favour. And you know what? It did! The Fairmont didn’t ask which hotel screwed us over (very polite) but they did ask us the rate we had been given, and they gave us that rate for our guests at their hotel for 5 nights! From Thursday through Monday! Talk about going above and beyond. We had two contract options with them: guaranteed X number of rooms, where we (Cinnamon Buns and I) would be responsible for paying for any rooms in the block that weren’t booked by the wedding weekend, or a rate guarantee, where our people can get that rate as long as there are appropriate rooms available in the hotel. She also let us know that the hotel was fairly empty so far that weekend. We went with option #2, so we wouldn’t be on the hook for any costs.
Then we heard back from hotel #1 about how their big group “canceled.” That put us in a dilemma. We had two hotel blocks: one at a hotel that we wanted people to stay at, and one at a hotel we didn’t want to bring more business to AND we were worried that they might try and screw with our guests. But that ‘bad’ hotel was plastered all over our invites.
In the end, we contacted everyone we could, and set our mums to contact the families, telling them about the new hotel. We also kept our wedding website up-to-date with what was going on, and as soon as the Fairmont stuff was done, we completely updated our accommodation page to reflect the changes. We did not, however, ever cancel the block at our original hotel, just in case someone didn’t get the word. May 24th has come and gone, and still no one has booked, so the rooms are released and I don’t have to think about them again!
And that’s the saga of our hotel block. It was a lot of added stress right when I didn’t need it, but I’m happy that everyone will be staying at the same hotel, and that the Fairmont was so accommodating. I feel very fancy-pants saying that I am staying in a suite there!
Did you have any unnecessary vendor drama? Did you work it out with them or take your business elsewhere?